Chapter 15: Smother - Daughter
I was considerably average at most things. Music was my sole gift. Reading and clearly expressing my thoughts were my biggest challenges. It wasn’t because I wasn’t taught well. I was. It wasn’t because I wasn’t smart enough to grasp it. An IQ test stated that I was right where I should be in terms of intelligence. Dyslexia was the reason I sank down in my seat each time my teachers called on students to answer questions or read aloud. It was the reason it took me a longer to do my homework and take tests. I took my SATs in private. I was given four days to complete it and some of the questions were read aloud to me to ensure I didn’t invert the letters and misunderstood what they were asking.
I’ll be honest. It did impact my self-worth. I felt like I wasn’t smart enough to handle life on my own. So many peopled treated me like that was the case. My mama was the worst offender by far. She read all the instructions to me every time I helped her cook. When I rode in the car with her, she’d read me all of the street signs and street names. I was the epitome of smothered. I wanted nothing more than the ability to breathe.
My mother drove me to Charlotte Douglas International Airport to fly to New York to meet up with my friends. Instead of simply dropping me off, like she did when I returned to school after breaks, she parked.
“I can handle my bags. I only have a backpack and a small suitcase.” I tried to reason.
“I know, Baby, but I need to make sure you get there safely.” She unbuckled her seatbelt and stepped out of the car.
I quickly joined her outside. “What?”
“I’m flying with you to New York.” She unlocked the trunk.
“Mama, I can do –“
“You’ve never been through the JFK airport. You can’t rely on sight memory. It’s safest if I go with you.” She reiterated.
My cheeks warmed with embarrassment. I knew none of my friends’ parents would be accompanying them to New York. She was practically holding my hand. The vivid imagery of her kissing my cheek and saying “Bye, Nicky, call me as soon as you can!” in front of them crept into my mind. I hated it, but there was nothing I could do.
I shuffled through the airport, trying my best to put distance between us. I felt like she knew what I was doing. She worked harder to keep up. As we waited in the ticketing line, she turned to me.
“You’ve got a little—“ She licked the back of her thumb and tried to place it on my face. I dodged it by taking a step back.
“Why did you --?” Her face crinkled in confusion.
“I’m eighteen. We’re in an airport. People are watching.” I admitted in a hushed tone.
“Excuse me, Mr. Man. I was just trying to help.” She stated passive-aggressively as she turned back around.
I smoothed down my hair to cope with some of my discomfort. I remained silent, trying my best to blend into the crowd. I let her do all of the talking when we reached the counter, knowing she’d take over if I even attempted to assert my independence. After making it through security, we stopped at one of the stores near the gate.
“Would you like some juice, Nicky? They have your favorite – cranberry apple.” She inquired, speaking in what felt like the loudest voice possible.
Two girls who appeared to be my age, looked over at us subtly and giggled as they returned their attention to the magazines they were skimming. My face flushed.
“No.” I told her in a hushed tone, stepping away from her.
“I’ll get it anyway, just in case you change your mind.” She beamed and pinched my cheek before walking off to the counter.
I removed my phone from my pocket.
’My mama is killing me. She’s flying me to New York.’ I composed a message and sent it to Finn.
Finn: Does she have you on one of those child leashes that pretends to be a backpack?
I smiled as I texted my reply. ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if she pulled one out of her purse.’
Finn: Or her hair. It’s big enough. Question: did they have to pat it down when she went through security?
I audibly laughed. ’No, but they should’ve.’
Finn: What if it interferes with the oxygen masks’ deployment? It’s unsafe for her to hold your hand to JFK. You’d need to breathe in the event of an emergency.
’You ask the real questions.’ I replied with a smile.
Finn: That’s why you keep me around.
‘And I serve as your conscience.’
Finn: Thanks for the help, Jiminy
‘’Pinocchio’ is kind of a creepy movie.’ I somewhat shifted the conversation.
Finn: Gepetto didn’t want a family, he wanted to sleep with no pants on and a little boy to share a bed with.
‘I was talking about the talking puppets! You just ruined my childhood!’
Finn: My bad… I thought we were discussing the subtle pedophilia in a film targeted towards children. Should I not go into the racist undertones of ‘Snow White’ and ‘Dumbo’?
‘You love doing that, don’t you?’
Finn: Corrupting the innocence of those around me? I live for it. In kindergarten, I told everyone in my class that Santa wasn’t real during show and tell.’
Finn: But accurate. I regret nothing.
“Ready to go? Our plane will be boarding soon.” My mom pulled me back to where we were.
I offered her a smile. “Yeah.” I followed her to our designated boarding area. The two of us sat down.
‘Of course not. Plane to catch. See you soon.’ I sent one final text to Finn.